THE CHILDREN'S FOUNDATION OF GUELPH AND WELLINGTON
In March, the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington launched a new emergency food support program, Fresh Food for Kids, in response to the growing need to support children and youth during these tough times with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first few weeks, the foundation, along with its original partner, Market Fresh Guelph, delivered five food baskets per week to local families with enough food for an entire week. The response was overwhelmingly positive, as expressed by one parent.
"Feeding such a large family on a normal day can be difficult for me but in these crazy times, it seems to be even harder. The relief these boxes have brought to us is such a blessing! I really can’t express how grateful we are - from the bottom of my heart and from my children, thank you so much.”
Now more than a month into the program, the children’s foundation is pleased to launch the next phase by partnering with several agencies in Dufferin, Wellington and Guelph to provide food for school-age children in place of the food they might typically receive in a school setting through the Foundation’s Food & Friends student nutrition programs.
“School closures have had a significant effect on children and youth who rely on our student nutrition programs to fulfil some of their daily nutritional needs,” says Anita Macfarlane, Program Director of the Food & Friends program. “With the support of many community partners such as HOPE House, Freshii, Fraberts Fresh Food, FreshCo Fergus, The SEED, Food4Kids Guelph, the School Boards, local food banks, and individual donors we have found a way to adapt so we can continue providing support for hungry students.”
The Children’s Foundation aims to distribute nutritious food for up to 200 students per week in Dufferin, Wellington and Guelph. This will be in addition to the food baskets already being distributed in Guelph by Market Fresh. Volunteers will be helping to pack deliveries with the help of two new packing locations at HOPE House in Guelph and Central Pentecostal Church in Elora, as well as distributing the food following prescribed safety protocols for no-contact.
“While children and youth are schooling from home, and are not able to access their usual student nutrition programs, our goal is to continue bringing healthy food to hungry minds,” says Emma Rogers, CEO. “With the financial hardships that families are facing right now, we know one of their first priorities is having food on the table. We hope that the support from Fresh Food for Kids will not only alleviate some of the strain that they’re feeling but will also show them how much the community cares about them and their children.”
The Children’s Foundation has been inspired by the collaborative response from partners who have been quick to step up and figure out the best way to work together and help as many kids as possible.
“Working together with the Children’s Foundation is a way to bridge all ages and demographics, and ensure that those most vulnerable have the food support they need,” says Jaya James, Executive Director at HOPE House. “The team at the Children’s Foundation has done an incredible job in bringing together a broad network quickly in an effort to meet the needs of children most impacted by food insecurity during some pretty daunting times. HOPE House is happy to play a part in this effort by helping to provide a space for food to be packaged, as well as helping to take on supporting some of the families in need.”
The Foundation has also partnered with Freshii Guelph (Woodlawn & Gordon locations) to continue to reach more families across Guelph and Wellington. Freshii will be assembling healthy snack bundles, similar to what students would get in their schools’ student nutrition programs.
“We are so excited to help ensure that families and children get the proper nutrition they need during this pandemic,” says Juliann McArthur, Franchisee of both the Woodlawn and Gordon St. locations. “We wanted to find a way to support our community in this time of need, and we love the program the Children’s Foundation has put together.”
Fresh Food for Kids is also happy to welcome partners Fraberts Fresh Food and FreshCo Fergus, who will be supplying food at discounted rates, helping to stretch donations further and feed more children and youth in need.
To find out how you can donate or apply to the Fresh Food for Kids program, visit the Children’s Foundation website at www.childrensfoundation.org/ways-to-help/fresh-food-for-kids.